Naim kit and passive pre amps

I remember from my youth that Naim often insisted on their own cables etc. I have yet to see a Naim power amp connected to a passive (expensive, ladder type) preamp. Is this problematical?

I have used the Townshend Allegri and Icon4 to great effect, both autoformer passive pre amps.

I thought about getting a Naim power amp for use with my Music First TVC passive pre but I would need a special cable as the pre is XLR only.

Flashback or Chord can make you any cable you want.

There are cable manufacturers who understand Naim pin layouts and can make them up to order. Or just show any cable supplier the little diagram next to the input socket and they will be able to see what’s required.

I don’t think Naim uses any special layout, just standard DIN right? At least for the 5 pin ones.

4 pin DIN or 3 pin XLR on the power amps, the latter is probably unique to Naim.

We originally had a Nait 5i, which as I recall is a Naim amp coupled to a passive preamp in the same box. It sounded entry level to me, and the NaitXS2 is much better, and better yet with the FlatcapXS. I attribute the difference to the active preamp in the XS vs the 5i.

You don’t understand my problem. I always buy second hand especially cables. If I buy a Naim power amp and don’t like the sound I could sell it again without often a loss. However if I have to have a special cable made up, that cable will not sell for more than 50% of the price I paid for it.

You might think I am a cheap skate but I have a system way better than I could afford buying new!

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The NAIT5i had a passive pre-amp however it still had a primary gain stage, just that it was essentially part of the power amp. This is better than just a passive pre-amp in front of a power amp that expects to be fed by an active pre amp.

Personally I would not use a passive pre-amp in front of a Naim power amp - the result may have good transparency but it lacks any kind of drive, or tension or ultimately any interest in the music. However an auto-transformer pre-amp could potentially work reasonably well.

You’re unlikely to find a used cable for a passive pre/Naim power amp as it will almost certainly have been made to order, and there will be very few of them around. So you can either buy a new one (a Flashback one wouldn’t be expensive), learn to solder, or wait, possibly for the rest of your life, for a used one to come along.

Very well in my experience. Other passives I tried where less than gripping.

Hi Mr.
I would appreciate it if you could expand, a little bit, what your system components are and how the pre connects to the rest of your system components, in terms of cabling.
And is there a need for special adjustments or is it a plug-and-play device?

I built a complete Cyrus system but the two weak points of Cyrus are generally accepted to be their pre amps and their DACs. Please note that I have not had their latest offerings. So for me a passive pre-amp sounded a good option. I have a Bel Canto DAC which can act as a digital pre-amp but it sounds better with the passive pre-amp.

I understand that Naim pre-amps are really good (and I am very tempted to get a Naim streamer for a second system). I have a TVC passive pre-amp which is less dependant on cable resistance. I understand that passive pre-amps often are disappointing with turntable sources. Despite the claim that passive pre-amps are just a volume control, they do make a big difference to the sound. They will certainly not sound like a Naim pre-amp.

To conclude passive preamps are not for everyone’s taste but I love mine in my non-Naim system.

I have 3 way open baffle speakers. All connections are conventional phono. The signal passes through a ladder type passive volume control from where it is sent in two directions.

The mid/tweeters are powered by a pair of 45 triode SETS and are perfect.

The 15" drivers (8ohm 95dB sensitive) will be powered by their own amp and I prefer SS for this. I know from past experience that every amp has an effect on the sound quality of the bass and I realise I have never tried Naim amps. The range being asked to cover is only up to 120Hz and in terms of volume alone a 30 watt Rotel seems to handle it OK.

Sound quality and impact are paramount.

I’m sure Mr Underhill will reply but are you aware of this thread, which doesn’t only discuss the Allegri?

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Hi Ditton,

Digital front end >> Icon4 >>Naim 300DR > Naim SBLs

Signals made up the cables for me, rca to XLR.

No special adjustments with either the Icon4 or Allegri.

Pal has stopped making the Icon4, he has his new model out, which I think is just a few tweaks. If you contact him he is based in Manchester and an easy chap to deal with.



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